H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Monday, July 10, 2006

180 Degrees: One Man's Feelings About Brad Lidge After the Latest Debacle

Does anyone remember the Astros of 2004 and/or 2005? Remember that feeling that no matter what, the 'Stros were going to get it done? It was destiny. A big hit or a timely K was not just something you hoped would happen. You knew it was going to happen. That, my friends, is the hallmark of a Team of Destiny. We were lucky enough to experience that the last two years. I am now officially wondering if we even have a chance at three.

Much like a young man waking up to see the wildebeest he picked up at last call the night before snoring peacefully next to him, the beer goggles are off this morning. Last night's coat-hanger was worse than anything I've seen in a long time. Instead of knowing the 'Stros were going to come back, I was just waiting for the bottom to fall out. And you know why? Three words for you: Brad Freaking Lidge.

Lights Out Lidge spoiled us all last year. He wasn't just a lockdown closer. He was absolutely unhittable. Batters flailed at his slider like drunken eight year olds. They couldn't catch up to his fastball. It was almost unfair. Houston fans were as happy as Eddie Griffin at the AVN Awards. Truth be told, it's not logical to expect that kind of dominance every appearance. In that respect, Lidge is a victim of his own success. But whereas last year his entrance into a game just meant it was time to warm up the car, it now means it's time to tighten your sphincter.

Even when he records two outs, you know it's not over. Even when the potential third out is down 0-2 in the count, you know it's not over. A walk or a single is inevitable. Then, a walk or single on top of that, too. Last year, Lidge gave up 53 hits and walked 23 batters over the course of the entire season. This year, he's given up 39 hits and walked 23 by the halfway point of the season. I'm no statistical analyst (Scott would likely attribute this to my preference for hunches, instinct, and other assorted forms of baseball sorcery), but that seems like a pretty alarming trend to me.

I'm not saying Lidge is done. But to ignore the problem, as Garner seems content to do right now, is only inviting further cataclysmic meltdowns (and soaring alcohol sales). The Astros can still make the playoffs (and for some reason, I remain steadfast in my belief that they will), but the days of Lights Out Lidge are on hiatus. The lights are on, Houston. And there are runners in scoring position.


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